GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- It was a tough day for the Smith brothers of Millstone, N.J. Wednesday at Knicks practice.
The team announced that Chris Smith, a rookie shooting guard, will miss 3-6 months with left patella tendon surgery. Smith, out of Louisville, will have the surgery at 6 a.m. Thursday, the day the Knicks open the preseason in Washington against the Wizards.
Meantime, J.R. Smith, Chris’s older brother, said he was “disappointed” both in his brother’s situation and in the fact that he will come off the bench this season and won’t start at shooting guard.
“I mean, disappointed is an understatement,” J.R. said. “The whole process of getting better this summer and everything I’ve gone through was to be in that starting role. But it was great to be able to put all that work in and understand what my body can withhold without starting, so I think it just makes our bench even stronger.”
With Iman Shumpert (ACL), Ronnie Brewer (meniscus) and James White (hamstring) all injured, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he hasn’t decided who will start at shooting guard on Thursday. Shumpert isn’t due back until at least December, and Brewer’s timetable is uncertain.
“I’m going to make that decision probably game decision,” Woodson said.
J.R. said he doesn’t expect to get the start.
“I haven’t been starting so I don’t plan on starting [Thursday],” he said.
That leaves rookies Mychel Thompson (who has been practicing with the starters) and John Shurna as options, along with the veteran Jason Kidd, who could close some games at the two during the season.
“I don’t know yet,” Woodson said of Kidd. “He’s going to play some two, though, probably this year. He could play three as well. He can guard ones, twos and threes so we’ll see.”
Chris Smith had hoped to be in the mix at shooting guard, but said he may have originally sustained the injury at Louisville.
“I was feeling just a little grinding,” he said of his time in college. “Some days I had to rest it, just get ultrasound, things to try to treat it. But we, I guess, didn’t know what it was.
“In college they told me I just had tendonitis, but it’s been like this for a while. It just got to it’s worst point now.”
The news was a tough blow for Smith, who had hoped to play alongside his brother this season.
“It’s tough but they said I’ll be way more better when I come back,” Smith said. “I’ll just train here, work out and I’ll be ready to go.”
Said Woodson: “Well, he’s a part of our team and now he goes down and he’s gotta have srugery
“It’s a tough break. He’s a young talent. He’s young enough that he’ll bounce back and we’ll wait for him to come back. That’s all we can do at this point.”
J.R. was also downcast about the news.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said, “something that has to happen though. Fortunately, we got a head start on it so he’ll be ready in three months.”
As for himself coming off the bench, J.R. said: “I don’t really have a choice. Whatever he needs me to do, that’s what I’m here to do. If he wants me to come off the bench, I’ll come off the bench. If he wants me to start, I’ll start.”
Smith said he’s not really excited about competing for a Sixth Man of the Year Award.
“I don’t care about the Sixth Man race,” he said. “I mean, I haven’t even been in the finals in the last six years of it so that’s not even a thought process of mine. My thought process is winning.”
Like Kidd earlier this preseason, J.R. expressed a desire to be in the game at the end if starting isn’t an option.
“Oh, without a doubt,” he said. “It’s always more important for me to finish now. I mean starting and finishing is a total difference. Finishing the game I mean you out there when it really matters, when the clcok going down, when it hits :00, you’re out here.
“Whether you won or lost, you can say you did your best. You can’t really say that coming from the bench so fortunately for me in the situation I’m in I’ll be able to say that.”
Photo: The Score